Incidences of melanoma have steadily increased in the United States since the early 1980s [source: California Department of Public Health]. But many potential skin cancer victims could easily protect themselves, simply by avoiding the sun.
Skin cancer is most likely to appear on the parts of the body that receive the most direct sunlight, so the face, neck and arms are often among your body's most vulnerable parts. And remember that it doesn't take a sunny day to get a sunburn or for your body to be exposed to harmful UV rays. In fact, you can be burned any time during the day and in many different types of environments, whether sailing on the ocean, skiing on white powdered snow or relaxing underneath an overcast sky. The sun's UV rays can even reflect off of seemingly non-reflective surfaces, like cement.
It's especially important to protect children from excessive sun exposure. While it may be great for kids to play outside and cultivate an appreciation for the outdoors, a lack of sun protection -- particularly between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun's at its most fierce -- can lead to problems later in life.
Also, keep in mind the sun is more severe in summer and spring, if you're living near the equator and when you're at high altitudes. The sun is like many other aspects of nature: It can be beautiful and inspiring, but we should guard ourselves against its ill effects.
For more information about keeping your skin safe and healthy, check out the links below.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- American Cancer Society. "Skin Cancer Prevention and Early Detection." May 21, 2009. http://www.cancer.org/docroot/PED/content/ped_7_1_Skin_Cancer_Detection_What_You_Can_Do.asp
- BBC News. "'No doubts' sunbeds cause cancer." July 28, 2009. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8172690.stm
- California Department of Public Health. "Background Information." 2007. http://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/SkinCancer/Pages/BackgroundInformation.aspx
- CDC. "Skin Cancer Statistics." June 12, 2009.http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/statistics/index.htm
- CDC. "Skin Cancer Prevention." May 25, 2009.http://www.cdc.gov/features/skincancer/
- Laurance, Jeremy. "Bottled sunshine: The value of Vitamin D." The Independent. Sept. 13, 2006. http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/bottled-sunshine-the-value-of-vitamin-d-415808.html
- National Cancer Institute. "Phototoxicity."http://cancertrials.nci.nih.gov/Templates/db_alpha.aspx?CdrID=462755
- National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention. "Sun Protection Messages." http://www.skincancerprevention.org/Tips/NCSCPSunProtectionMessages/tabid/114/Default.aspx
- Skin Cancer Foundation. "Protective Clothing." (Accessed 10/2/09)http://www.skincancer.org/sun-protective-clothing.html
- WebMD. "Sun-Sensitizing Drugs." 2007.http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/sun-sensitizing-drugs
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